Palace: Let SC rule on Teehankee pardon

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MALACANANG yesterday tossed to the Supreme Court the petition seeking to nullify the Board of Pardons and Parole’s sentence for commutation and the subsequent grant of executive clemency paving the way for the liberty of convict Claudio Teehankee Jr.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that the Palace is leaving it up to the Supreme Court to decide on the petition of Atty. Ernesto Francisco filed yesterday seeking to nullify Teehankee’s clemency.

Ermita stressed that Teehankee’s case went through due process, pointing out the President’s absolute power to grant clemency.

He doubted that Teehankee’s clemency can ever be nullified as per dictates of our Constitution, even as he leaves the matter to the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court to resolve.

Francisco, one of the private prosecutors who represented the families of Teehankee’s victims — Maureen Hultman, Roland John Chapman, and Jussi Olavi Leino — said the authorities responsible for Teehankee’s release committed “a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

Francisco referred to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, and the Board of Pardons and Parole as respondents of the petition he filed.

He said he could not “stomach” that Arroyo, Ermita, Gonzalez, and BPP officials themselves “violated the Constitution” in facilitating Teehankee’s release.

Francisco also said there was merit to file the petition as he had been “working on the case for a long time.”

He added that the Supreme Court still has a checking-and- balancing power over the executive clemency granted to Teehankee.

Justice Secretary Gonzalez earlier said that the clemency has already “taken effect and it can’t be taken back unless there was fraud… Mathematical error and misapplication of rules.”

Gonzalez said he respects the rights of Francisco to file his petition, pointing out he knows that Teehankee has already paid all his civil liabilities to the Hultmans, even to Roland John Chapman and Jussi Leino Teehankee. The son of the late former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee Sr. was convicted in 1995 for killing Maureen Hultman and Chapman, and gravely wounding their friend Leino in 1991.

He was sentenced with one count of reclusion perpetua (or life imprisonment) for killing Hultman, and two counts of reclusion temporal for the cases of Leino and Chapman.

Teehankee had been locked in jail since July 24, 1991, nearly two weeks after the crime took place on July 13, 1991 in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.

Acting on a recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Parole, President Arroyo granted executive clemency to Teehankee effective Oct. 2.

Teehankee left his quarters at the NBP on the night of Oct. 8.